Upfront: ABC’s McPherson Avoids Emphasis On Digital

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In years past, it wouldn’t have been an issue but it sounded a little strange this morning to hear Stephen McPherson, president of ABC Entertainment, during an upfront press conference to try to avoid being drawn into conversation of the network’s digital programming. McPherson’s shtick: None of it matters without content. He started off that way as he introduced a new ABC lineup that moves Grey’s Anatomy to Thursday and promises fewer repeats or disjointed episodes of serials. He continued when pressed specifically about digital, mentioning the “dot.com streaming stuff … mobisodes, platforms, but adding, “I really like to spend most of my time worrying about the content and then I help shepherd it out over the different platforms.”
Asked about how digital was affecting contracts for new series, McPherson said, “These are technologies that nobody knew about. … It’s completely new; we’re all going to figure it out.”
To be sure, he’s right when he says none of it happens without content. And I don’t think he meant to sound dismissive or vague; he wants the spotlight on the shows and he’s brushing everything else out of the way for the presentation. Understandable — primetime is still the bread-and-butter, digital’s just the preserves for now — and yet it still sounded out of touch with today’s reality. There has to be a median between NBCU’s detailed approach and a vacuum.
— “Commander in Chief” update: Toast. Can you spell squander? ABC may take a two-hour movie from creator Rod Lurie.
— Slate details here (pdf).

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